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Polyvore & ShopStyle’s Quest to Democratize Fashion

Mar 29, 2010 By Amy

Ever get the urge to play dress up? When you do, sites like Polyvore and ShopStyle are there to satisfy your cravings. While created with girlish fun in mind, these outlets are paving the way for a new era in fashion democracy. By taking various clothing images and accessories, users are able to create sets consisting of any style or trend. Polyvore’s VP of Product Management, Jess Lee, recently told The New Yorker,  “Our mission is to democratize fashion. To empower people on the street to think about their sense of style and share it with the world” she explains.

The New Yorker article reports, “Polyvore’s most valuable asset is the intelligence that it gathers about its users’ preferences. Every day, in a section called Zeitgeist, the site presents top-twenty lists of users’ favorite brands, trends, and celebrities. Sometimes these rankings are easily explicable—after the February 11th suicide of Alexander McQueen, his brand hovered around No. 1 for weeks, as distraught creators rushed to make tribute sets.”

It’s exciting to see a trend’s evolution on sites like Polyvore, however it may not be so exciting for some brands because their items frequently get paired with less expensive clothes. This would never happen on the pages of a high fashion magazine or a flashy celebrity photoshoot. However, in the real world women frequently pair high end with low end, so perhaps part of the appeal is creating your own look the way you’d wear it?

Whether it’s the control over creating your own set or creating a fantasy, the site is undoubtedly creating a democracy of not-so-shy users who are proud of their creations no matter how brilliant or gaudy. This lack of control over how brands are depicted can either be feared or embraced.

You can read the full New Yorker article online.

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